The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

People

People


People think that you can sculpt yourself like you would clay, or like a foolish child squeezes play-doh through their fingers, piecing things together.

Somethin out of nothin.

They think that a couple of push ups and sit ups with the occasional protein shake will get you there. Take you to where you want to be...or at least good enough.

They think that change is unnatural, that wanting to be something different than what you fell into is a strange endeavor

...but they wouldn't know what it meant to change yourself.
To make your dreams appear  in the mirror.
To tear yourself down and rebuild.


They don't understand what it feels like to tie the shoe laces of your chuck taylors every morning and feel like a soldier, a man on a mission, to have a purpose to your action.
To start off saying "No, Thank You" One day, feeling deprived, then suddenly realizing you never wanted it in the first place.
To tear open your hand, sprang your ankle, bruise your forearm and wonder how you're going to work around it.
To even forget what it means to make an excuse, to laugh at the idea of what you did before.

You're hungry for it, you're stupid, you're obsessed, you're in love. You're left with the task of explaining yourself, rationalizing, only to end up thinking "fuck it." You're in this game with one life, no reruns, no obnoxious video game metaphors. You're here to drive the vessel of your making.

You scratch and crawl for every achievement, tipping the scale back and forward, an ounce of fat there, A pound of muscle there, your achievement comes at cost, The stretch on your time is starting to look reasonable compared to your grocery bill. 

And you're worried about people? You've left civilization a long time ago. A person doesn't beat themselves up every morning then come back for more. People don't understand you because you're not one of them.

They don't know your words, your language, or that you work today to have that tomorrow that they want 30 mins from now.

No, what they don't understand is it doesn't matter what you want for the future if you don't do it today, that it's not when or where you start it's where you end up.









Saturday, August 30, 2014

Full Body

188.4

Pause Bench
200 2x2
140 2x12



Weighted Chins
97.5 2x2
70 x 6



One arm Row
115 3x5



Low Bar Squat
265 2x2
170 2x12



2" deficit deads
335 2x2



Incline Bicep Curl
40 2x8



French Press
95 3x12

Rear Delt
90 x 12


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Leggies and Boulders

190.2

Overhead Press
120 7x2



Low Bar Squat
250 4x4



Dumbbell Press
65 4x6



2" Deficit Dead
320 2x4



Back Raises
50 3x10



Leg Extension
70lbs 3x10



Leg Curl
35lbs 3x10



Side Raises
35 3x10


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Full Body

190.2

Pause Bench Press
190 4x4



Weighted Chins
95 2x2
67.5 x 6 



1 arm Rows
110 3x6



Low Bar Squat
195 4x8



2" Deficit Deads
260 2x8



Bicep
50 2x10 



Skull Crushers
90 3x12

Rear Fly Delts
85 x 12


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Arguments Against Cardio

I've tried to stay away from the cardio hate because frankly I think it's really easy to demonstrate the superiority of weight lifting to traditional machine based cardio. 

But, some things must be stated...

This is what I see...



Or better yet...



My general rule is that if I see an exercise or machine that is being used by the majority of average gym attendees and they all come out of the gym looking the same after a few months, I avoid it like the plague.

There are seas and seas of individuals who have memberships to gyms simply to have access to cardio machines. Some of them will use them occasionally, sluggishly crawling out of bed before work and forcing their tired, worn carcasses onto these sedentary robots. Others will commit 1 to 2 hours of their day breathlessly chewing the ends of their water bottles, completing the metaphor in my mind. Which one is more flawed? Answer: Both are acts of futility.

Cardio is a tool, and a rather effective one, but cardio alone is a force of destruction...

Starvation and cardio are recipes for fat city for when you fall off of that rat wheel. There's talk about metabolic adaptation and how cardio can actually cause you to hoard more fat later on... I don't buy that pig, and I'm skeptical of the studies, but the very basic understanding of getting used to one level of caloric intake whilst doing massive amounts of cardio and then suddenly dropping that form of energy release without decreasing food intake is obvious energy balance spill over.

If you were an individual who tracked their calorie/macro intake in a semi anal retentive manner and made adjustments of the sorts and not just a person who "avoids carbs", "eats clean" or "makes good choices" while at the same time snacking all damn day on soy vanilla kale crisps or whatever hippies eat, you might avoid this kind of trap.


What cardio teaches you:


Cardio teaches you to be numb, to zone out, to move passively. It's the kind of exercise we give to the smallest caged of our little friends whom we're uncertain even care for us. (Hamsters.) Some people even tilt their water bottles and nibble at the ends to...I've already used that one.

What weights teach you:


Explosive, energetic power, central nervous system full boar, you are the tiger, the lion, the bear, the gorilla. The cobra that feasts upon the hamsters. You charge the squat rack as if it were a gazelle, destroy the reps and then lay and bask in the blood of your victim in the African sun. You've earned your rest and your meal.




The Point of Cardio


Cardio, too has it's place in this jungle. As I explained to my good friend Jon the other day, when things get desperate in the weight loss realm, we get a little stupid. And a lot of stupid can get a lot of results, that's why I'm not afraid to say "Do more cardio." The top body building coaches and people who regularly get superstars in insane shape in short periods of time are not afraid of forcing the deficit with an hour of cardio here and there. But, they have an end goal in sight and are getting people into far better shape than the average walking around joe needs to be, sometimes at ridiculously unhealthy levels of body fat where their skin looks like shrink wrap. But, this cardio regiment is always supplemented by an extremely controlled diet in a very controlled fitness environment, usually in the presence of a coach and/or nutritionist. When you're at a highly competitive level, things like pre, peri, and post workout nutrition come into play, which if you're scratching your head at that concept or don't know what it means to eat a balanced diet, well then you definitely should not be chained to a cardio machine, because...


This equation doesn't work...




You can be all the stupid on an elliptical and if you're not eating in a deficit, you're screwed. That's why cardio is a tool to supplement a deficit, not the means to create a deficit.

The Issue of Progression.


Whenever I add 5lbs to a squat, bench, deadlift or weighted pull up, I know that I've gotten stronger and I've successfully built more muscle. If I weigh less than last week and hit the same weight this week, if not progressed, I've successfully lost fat and retained (or gained) muscle. 

If you start off doing your workout life by doing 1 hour of elliptical every day, where do you go next? An hour and 10 minutes? An hour and 20? Are you eventually going to commit 5 hours of your day to low intensity steady state (liss) or medium intensity steady state (miss) cardio? Don't you have responsibilities? Job? Kids? Family? Friends?

You're left with the task of being honest with your body and yourself about how much "effort" you're putting in, or you have to start tracking and beating your times. Something that the average cardio addict is not interested in doing.

Perceived Effort


I know if I've failed on a lift. I either will be trapped in the hole and have to dump the weight off of my back in a squat, be pinned underneath a bar and have to roll it off my groin on a bench, or it simply won't leave the ground with a deadlift. It's a pretty simple pass or fail system. 

If you're in the midst of what is a pretty fuckin miserable diet, you're gonna half ass your cardio. That's why treadmills and step machines are usually the go to for physique coaches. The client either does the speed or falls off the machine. Where a self propelled machine like a bike, elliptical, or whatever those other things are called, you can sit on that thing and half ass your way through a whole episode of House.




How do I know this? Mutha fuckas, I've been there done that...

Story Time...


Summer of 2008, I had just started working out again.

I went from 225lbs to 187lbs over the course of a summer by means of lots of bike riding, running, walking, a fairly aggressive, somewhat intentional calorie deficit and a very frantic server job. I would "cardio" for an hour or so every day, listening to This American Life, The Chicago Lyric Opera Podcast and an assortment of 21st century compositions on my old, busted ass iPod while occasionally falling off into thoughts about how I was gonna get girls to like me. 


I obviously don't have any shirtless pics from that point in my life because I was still very embarrassed about my appearance, but I was the definition of skinny fat. Long limbs, but retaining a lot of fat on my hips, gut and had one hell of a doughy chest. I had fat deposits similar to that of a well mannered lady. 

Eventually I started eating again, met my ex-fiancé and proceeded to become "fat and happy."



And thus is whenst my years of Big Kasey began....

But, I'm not finished...

Even when I went down the path that eventually led me to become the Ol' Yeargain you all know and love, I was still flawed...

At first when reading and researching how to lose weight and build muscle, I discovered the program 5x5. This is a fantastic program..if you actually do it correctly and take the time to learn how to actually do these lifts. But I didn't want that, those lifts were hard and I couldn't do the weight I wanted. I wanted to not be fat anymore and I knew how to curl and do a shitty bench press, so wham bam, here I come bro splits!

Instead of focusing on the big lifts, I had the great almighty influence of Brosiodon and proceeded to come down with one hell of a case of bro-itis. Luckily, I had also shocked myself into sticking to a semi aggressive calorie deficit and became great friends with cardio machines. This recipe worked. It did, I promise. Calorie deficit with a weekly cheat day combined with bro splits and intermittent fasting worked for me. I lost nearly 70lbs with that recipe alone.

This is where I ended up:



It really wasn't until I started countin my macros, putting a large emphasis on specific protein consumption and worked my ass off on making my deadlift strong that I actually started to force a real change in my body.



My Current Cardio


I personally do at least a little bit of cardio everyday. I do about 8 mins of the lowest resistance and the lowest incline possible on the elliptical before I lift. I do this for a basic warm up for my body and to allow the caffeine and Yohimbine to kick in a bit before I do the real work. I don't try to "kill it," I'm tryin to wake my ass up so I can focus on technique so I don't crush my larynx with a barbell. 

On my off days from my big lifts I'll do some dumbbell swings and occasionally some sprints or box jumps if I feel like pretending to be athletic. 


Here is my current conditioning under this template.


I'm not shredded to the bone, but Ol' Yeargain ain't doin too bad. The days when I do an hour of cardio are over. I hope to improve this conditioning over the next few months, (practically at a snails pace) but I don't plan on changing my protocol too drastically if at all.

What to take away


I've done plenty of stupid in the realm of exercise the past few years, all in attempts of obtaining a goal, a goal that I thought could only be achieved by suffering. Well, I suffered, I scratched, clawed, and forced the results, despite every fiber of my being screaming out against me. I hit "the wall" daily. How I didn't quit, I will never truly know.

The Point is, it wasn't nearly as necessary as it seemed in my mind. I could have achieved similar, if not better results if I had just focused on the big compound lifts at the very beginning, and on my off days lower my calories in the form of carbohydrates and putting in my cardio work then to facilitate weight loss and nutrient flow to the muscles (active recovery.) Not hitting the cardio machines every day, eating in a crazy deficit, wrecking myself with massive over feed cheat days, and bro splitting my body into oblivion.


Until next time, take a lesson from Ol' Yeargain's book of woes and if you're lookin to make a change, make a change that will stick. And as always,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro 

Full Upper Body

190.2

Pause Bench Press
150 4x8



Weighted Pull Ups
92.5 2x2
72.5 2x4
52.5 x 8



Overhead Press
120 3x2
100 x 8



1 arm Rows
105 3x10

Dips
67.5 5x8 



Rack Pulls
275 2x12

Shrugs
275 2x20

Side Laterals
35 2x10



Monday, August 25, 2014

Intimidation

I've become kind of a power lifting junkie over the past few months. I'm nowhere near having something resembling respectable power lifting numbers (I hope to one day change that) but I believe the movements themselves are key for overall body development and are the gateway to having an incredible physique.

One of my favorite power lifting personalities is Mark Bell of Supertraining.TV and the Mark Bell Powercast. I'll link his website here.




One of my favorite things he says is

"Strength is never a weakness."

You would think "well NO SHIT, that's like the definition of strength."

But then you have to think why he would say that? Any guesses?

"It's because he's a stupid power lifter."

Wrong.

People are intimidated by strength, and they try to brand it as weakness. They try to write off the accomplishments of others or diminish it's importance. People say stuff like "lifting weights will make me too big and bulky." "Lifting weights is stupid, only dumb jocks do it." "You don't need to be that strong, there's no reason for it." The fact is that most people simply do not understand or respect strength and people pursuing it.

"Bull shit, Ol' Yeargain...I watch the Olympics. I love sports, I love athletes."


THE FUCK YOU DO. 


The majority of you would be pissed if Mark Bell came into your YMCA and deadlifted 700lbs. You'd whine and moan and say "why is that guy making so much noise?" If a world class Olympic athlete came into your gym and clean and snatched over 400lbs (not 2 10lb candy pink plates), you'd look at him like he was growing a fuckin third butt cheek on his ass. If Adrian Peterson was wearing  a disguise, came in and clanged a bit too much when reppin out 225lbs for days on the bench, You'd throw a fuckin fit to the front desk because of how "inconsiderate he's being."



"That's not true. I just don't like power lifting." 

Oh, you don't like power lifting, but you love the athletes, the physiques, and the incredible entertainers the movements produce? (BTW, Jackman is on the deadlift grind again.) And you read your damn magazines with their pictures plastered all over the front, and pray and hope that some day you could have a body like that, but when it comes time to put up or shut up you decide to just do some light bicep curls or tricep kick backs and stop whenever you feel a tinge of burn from lactic acid.

No, you like watching and judging these people from a distance, from the comfort of your own home, the safety of your couch or perhaps in a bleacher with a nice cold frothy brew in one hand and a plate of nachos in the other, throwing out a "Mason is moving real slow today, his game is off. He should have hit the off season training a bit harder." (I obviously don't watch a lot of sports.) BUT GOD FUCKIN FORBID you have to hear someone clang 330lbs on the floor and make a little noise while you're zoning out and watching the mutha fuckin brady bunch on your recumbent bike.


One of the things that bugs me most is that people rarely get complaints for the amount of stupid they do on cardio machines. The amount of clambering, clomping, and general yammering from the cardio machine area that I hear is beyond infuriating, but rarely do you see a man interrupt his set of low bar squats to make a complaint to the front desk. The price of a new treadmill far outweighs the cost of a new 45lb plate or dumbbell. Not in a year and a half of constant gym attendance have I seen a plate crack, but not a week goes without one of the treadmills or machines throwing a fuckin rod (or whatever) and has to be worked on by a paid technician or replaced (upwards of 1000.00.)

Truth Time


I have to admit, this is probably coming from a butt hurt place. I had a lady threaten to kick me out of my temp gym if I "dropped" the weights anymore. I was doing deadlifts. I will not be returning to that gym. If they hire people who do not understand the super human health benefits that come with doing regular dead lifting, they do not deserve my business. End of story. However, that bit of butt hurtness got me thinking down this path that people as a whole are very intimidated by strength or at least their perception of it.

Fear


People are afraid of lifting heavy weights. Why? Because it's scary. Because it's uncomfortable. Because hitting failure makes you feel weak. Because lactic acid burns like fuckin hell. Because life is hard enough, why should you work harder outside of your job, or your school work, or your rehearsal? Weakness is easy, it comes naturally to us nowadays. We don't have to do shit for shit. We hire individuals who can barely walk and keep from panting as fitness instructors. We place authority into the hands of those who not only don't look the part, but don't even speak or think the part. We live in a world of weakness and comfort.

Even the concept of a gym is a complete and total mockery. I have no issues with cardio machines, I really don't. I crawl my ass onto one every day and will probably do so in some form or fashion for the rest of my life. I've even come around to some machines as a means to save my joints and maintain my frequency. But to put them above the iron that forges your muscle, tendon, and joints into a giant working power house of walking success is just asinine.

Even when we make the step to get into better shape, we place our trust into people who have been bred to fear real results. People who will give you a pink dumbbell set and place you on a nice balance ball and tell you to move real slow and make sure you're checking your pulse every two secs to make sure you're in the right "training zone." (YOUR BODY KNOWS WHEN YOU'RE WORKING HARD!!!!) These people fear real results, just like you do. They are afraid of law suits, of being fired, of hurting you, frankly, they are afraid of making you uncomfortable. That's why they have to say dumbbass shit like "No pain, no gain!" They have to convince you to get out of your comfort zone, because you're not strong enough to do it yourself. Because you want quick results when they never last, and they don't want to feel like failures when you haven't lost any weight since they've been with them. So they make you sweat those calories out, get your quick results, or feed you the lie that "muscle weighs more than fat." They have no idea how to construct anything remotely resembling a diet that's not just plain stupid. Yet we give these people money to "train" us. We give these facilities money so we can "workout." No, what we're doing is paying a fee so we can feel better about ourselves without actually doing the work, without making real changes. That's why the people who have real money just go ahead and have their surgeries done. If the every day American could afford it, so would they. 

"makin gainz"


Conquering the Fear.


My good friend Jon whom I've been helping out for a while has been making incredible progress on his lifts and while form checking his squat in his video I was immensely impressed with the speed, depth and precision of his squat. His squat form blows mine out of the water, and his speed and depth with that particular weight got my loins a' stirrin. But, in all seriousness, that shit was clean. However, he expressed that the weight was starting to feel heavy and intimidating.

Side Note: Had Jon told me this and I reviewed the footage and saw that the speed, technique, depth and overall safety was suffering, I would have adjusted accordingly. 

But, the real thing was that Jon's perception of the weight and the potential danger of doing what is more or less just a controlled version of crushing yourself was being recognized by his body. He has never done anything like this before, and survival instincts as they are like to alert a person when they sense even remote danger. This is also why people change so much in their personality when the discover strength training. The word fearless and powerful come to mind.

The subject known as Jon has been seen regular attending gyms whilst also having a successful career in the category of vocal production. Although the demands of their lives are extreme, he and his mate have found that the territory of gym are of a particular interest. The subject can be seen regularly adding more weight to the bar, hitting super human depth in the barbell squat, and then singing titan characters of the tenor nature in the evening. We have classified it as BADDASS. 


Rant Over

Until next time, don't be a coward. Judge not those of us who are brave enough to force their vessels into change and pretend that you support it from the safety of your domain yet tar and feather it's disciples when it's your cardio/CNN time. Buy a home recumbent bike, it will save you the gas money. And, as always...

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro.

Full Body

187.4

Pause Bench
170 5x6



One Arm Row
100 3x10



Low Bar Squat
225 5x6



2" Deficit Dead
280 2x6



Bicep barbell curl
120 2x8



French Press
85 3x12



Rear Delt Flys
85 x 12